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In DRC, Kobler Adds Attack Copters, Complains "Unarmed" Ones Shot At

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 12 -- During the UN's recent General Debate, the issue of UN helicopters flying reconnaissance missions over positions assigned to the M23 when they withdrew from Goma last November arose.

  At the UN in New York, Inner City Press twice asked about them, including if given its new posture the UN is now a combatant, a party to an armed conflict.

  French Deputy Permanent Representative Alexis Lamek dodges the latter question; Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky told Inner City Press, in the context of the French-led Security Council trip to DRC, that "the other journalists" didn't care about these questions.

  Now UN envoy Martin Kobler has taken to the Twitter airwaves to complain about M23 shooting at an "unarmed" UN helicopter, vowing that the flights will continue.

  As Inner City Press reported and updated yesterday, UN Peacekeeping under its fourth Frenchman in a row, Herve Ladsous, is ordering up Rooivalk combat helicopters with 70 mm rockets called only "relatively accurate."

So the UN, ostensibly about peace, is fueling an arms race in Eastern Congo, and escalating a conflict. This is the Ladsous-ification of UN Peacekeeping, about which Ladsous and now Kobler refuse to answer questions. (Ladsous' "farce" was in the UK New Statesman this week; when wil Kobler's turn toward unresponsiveness be similarly noted?)

  Kobler's emphasis on "unarmed" helicopters appears specious. Is he saying it's OK to fire on armed UN helicopters? Since the UN supports Congolese Army units, including those like the 41st and 391st Battalions implicated in the mass rape of 135 Congolese women in Minova, aren't reconnaissance flights part of an armed conflict?

  In most places on Earth, or before UN Peacekeeping's Ladsous-ification, UN envoys like Kobler sought to find a place for the UN that was not that of a combatant. But here, the dye is cast.

 How will it work out? That is not yet clear. But it is clear to many that this is no longer the UN, or what the UN claims to be. And Kobler has become as unresponsive and unaccountable as his boss. A fish, as they say, rots from the head. Watch this site.

The Office of Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson sent this response to Inner City Press after the October 11 noon briefing:

Subject: Your question on MONUSCO
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 4:49 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

In order to enhance MONUSCO’s capabilities in eastern DRC, the United Nations asked one of the Mission’s Troop Contributing Countries, the Republic of South Africa, to provide three attack helicopters and two utility helicopters to the Mission. South Africa has accepted the request and preparations are ongoing. MONUSCO also currently has attack helicopters from Ukraine and Bangladesh. MONUSCO will continue to use all assets in accordance with its rules of engagement.”


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